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The Life of P

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Riddick

The Riddick franchise is an unusual beast. Originating with the anti-hero in David Twohy’s modest budget 2000 sci-fi film Pitch Black, its success was a pleasant surprise for all involved. The amoral convict Riddick was an instantly alluring character so expectations were high for the big budget The Chronicles of Riddick, slated as the first part of a trilogy. Sadly it proved grossly underwhelming and to most, myself included, it seemed the franchise would die there.

Yet in a bizarre twist of fate, it was a videogame adaptation that kept Riddick alive. Trouncing the rule that all movie-to-game adaptations are universally rubbish, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay was one of the best first-person action games of its generation. Eschewing the film’s plot it instead focused on its greatest strength, Riddick’s character, and placed him in a triple max prison from which to escape. At least in its opening hours it is the closest you can get to playing the first season of Prison Break. It kept the gameplay varied as the pace shifted between gritty melée combat, stealth sequences and larger firefights.

The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena

Above all, it nailed Riddick’s predatory movements accompanied by Vin Diesel’s unmistakable gravelly growl. Vin Diesel was clearly aware of how well the role of Riddick suited him, and he has thrown himself as fully behind the games as he has the films. He actually founded developer Tigon Studios who produced Butcher Bay with Starbreeze (sorry girls, but Vin is very much one of us geeks — he’s an avid gamer, and even used to play Dungeons & Dragons…).

And so years later, Riddick’s return is not in film but a videogame sequel. Assault on Dark Athena is a stunning looking game with some incredible digital acting: good voices coupled with very physical performances from its characters, using body language rather than merely moving lips. This aside, and much like the Chronicles film, it fails to live up to its predecessor, with generic action and highly derivative gameplay. However that is only the half the package. The real gem, and easily worth the price alone, is a full remake of the original Butcher Bay in stunning HD. That the game does not show its age at all speaks volumes about the quality of the original as much as hinting at stagnation in modern releases.

So now, at last, we have a Chronicles of Riddick trilogy. It’s definitely not the way Twohy would have envisioned it, and his film could yet surface, but it is a trilogy nonetheless. Given Riddick’s character, it seems fitting that his franchise too would take any route to survive.

Zombies, Sharing and Folklore Stamps

Stubbs the Zombie: The Soundtrack

These days my exposure to new music has become somewhat limited since I don’t listen to the radio. Instead discoveries tend to stem from browsing the latest releases and sales at 7digital and amazon mp3 and listening to the samples. Delving a little deeper into their stock occasionally turns up a delightful gem, most recently Stubbs The Zombie: The Soundtrack from the last generation videogame. The game itself, a twist on the zombie genre by having you play the titular undead character, was entirely mediocre, never quite living up to the humour it promised. The soundtrack however, is a wonderfully quirky mix with modern indie bands covering pop classics from the 1960’s, when the game is set. Think a Death Cab For Cutie rendition of Earth Angel alongside a Flaming Lips cover of If I Only Had a Brain.

Long time readers will remember I used to share a lot of my photographs through the royalty free archive at morgueFile. Although there is no remuneration, it’s rewarding to see your work end up in all sorts of interesting and unexpected places. Undoubtedly the weirdest was a close-up headshot of my sister in traditional Bharatha Natyam dance dress which someone turned into a cushion! For no particular reason I stopped around two years ago, though around that time I started taking more shots of friends and family which are less useful to share. After this long hiatus I have just returned to the site and uploaded some of my recent work so I’m curious to see where it’s used this time. To date full size versions of my photos have apparently been downloaded there over 5770 times, which I have to admit is slightly scary number.

Perhaps as a corollary to my love of Neil Gaiman, I am a big fan of artist Dave McKean, so I was greatly excited to see he has been asked to design a series of stamps based on mythical creatures from folklore. The samples look beautiful and they are due for release on June 16th this year.

Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction have released a free Tour Sampler EP to promote their upcoming NINJA 2009 tour (see what they did there?). Trent giving away free stuff is hardly newsworthy any more, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth listening to. Arguably more interesting is that it means this promotion model is clearly working for him if he is continuing to do it. Giving the fans what they want makes them happy so they buy stuff — who knew?

I realised the Questions FAQ was horribly out of date, so I’ve updated it to bring it in line with, well, now. The new version is marked “beta” since I’m currently open to suggestions for new questions. Anything you want to ask, now’s the time…

"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2024 Priyan Meewella

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